UK study explores perception of scale

Researchers from Aston University and the University of York have assessed how participants viewed a railway scene with different levels of blur

SP vision
Scientists from Aston University and the University of York have provided insight on how humans perceive the scale of objects.

Writing in PLOS One, researchers described an experiment where participants were presented with images of a full-scale railway scene subject to different levels of artificial blur and a small-scale model railway scene with a long exposure and small aperture to reduce defocus blur.

Participants were asked to choose which of the two images represented a real-life railway scene and which was a model.

When the artificial blur was correctly orientated on the full-scale railway scene, participants selected the small-scale model railway as the genuine railway and the full-scale railway scene as a model.

Professor of vision science at Aston University, Tim Meese, highlighted that defocus blur plays a role in the perception of scale.

“Overall, our findings provide new insights into the computational mechanisms used by the human brain in perceptual judgments about the relation between ourselves and the external world,” he said.

Senior psychology lecturer at the University of York, Dr Daniel Baker, shared that the study highlights the “remarkable adaptability” of the visual system.

“This might have relevance for understanding the computational principles underlying our perception of the world. For example, when judging the size and distance of hazards when driving,” he said.